Is RIM on the right track with its latest offerings
On one hand, the company clearly wants to become a substantial part of the consumer space, but on the other, its deep ties with the enterprise do not allow it to shift enough of its focus to this undertaking. This situation has continued for quite a while, and as a result, RIM is now somewhere in the middle, struggling with the seemingly tricky business of manufacturing devices that cater to both enterprise and consumer needs at the same time.
We really wanted to devote some time to analyzing how RIM is doing these days, especially when it has recently launched its latest offerings. But before that, let's first take a quick glance back and see how the mighty manufacturer ended up like this.
The push for the consumer market
RIM managed to build its healthy business around the BlackBerry smartphones, which were the handsets of choice for the enterprise, due to an array of specialized features such as strong security, as well as unprecedented email and convenience, when it comes to handling text-based communication. But it was also this early when RIM was beginning to taste the sweetness of what it is to play on the mass market, by unleashing lower-cost phones like the Curve and Pearl. After all, in December 2009, RIM reported that over 80% of its net new subscriber account additions have come from non-enterprise customers. However, the consumer market was bound to change very, very soon, catching RIM unprepared. Although a very large share was already taken by the iPhone, the establishment of Android was yet another blow for RIM. Because of Android, many of those users who didn't want an iPhone for some reason now had a pretty strong alternative to fall back on. This meant that RIM had to rethink what it's doing, if it didn't want to be left outside alone.
Torch, the future didn't look very rosy for the Canadian manufacturer. Actually, although not very successful, the original Torch marked an important moment for the company, as it was its first touchscreen handset that worked. Unfortunately, even with the usable capacitive touchscreen, the Torch 9800 failed as it simply wasn't good enough, in terms of both hardware and software.
At this point, it was clear that RIM isn't where it wants to, and it needed to make a choice – to either contract its business and focus on what it's proven to do pretty well – products for the enterprise, or to continue its struggle against Apple and Google for a chunk of the alluring consumer market. What it unveiled subsequently revealed the bold choice it's made...
Bold 9900, which is the company's signature smartphone, the full-touchscreen Torch 9850 and the successor to the original Torch in the 9810. Along with the lightweight forces, the company has also deployed the heavy artillery in the form of the PlayBook tablet, running on the new QNX platform.
Right from the start, we declared the Bold 9810 a device that's already behind the curve. And how wouldn't we... the 9810 is what the original Torch should have been from day one! It had nothing really new to bring to the table, and looking at it now, it seems like the perfect representation of RIM's undefined present. While it remains true to the enterprise world in its essence, it also tries to appeal to the consumer, but it fails tremendously due to its total lack of wow-factor. It does have some decent specs, but if you want to gain prominence with the broad public nowadays, you have to lose the portrait sliding keyboard, and pack a bigger screen... and that's not a sacrifice that the enterprise is willing to do. Actually, this is what the Torch 9850 tries to achieve, and it does succeed to a certain point. The 9850 is good-looking, fast and capable, and we actually liked it in our review. So, what's the problem with it? Well, it's good, but it's not that good. Regular users have little reason to side with it, instead of with a high-end Android device or the iPhone, which come with ecosystems that are way more developed. So, while we consider the 9850 a pretty solid attempt at crafting a capable consumer smartphone, it will take more than that to bring RIM firmly on its feet again.
Looking at the Canadian manufacturer's current lineup, we like the Bold 9900 the most. It is arguably the best Bold ever, but it is a device, which is evidently targeted to the business. Not too many average Joes will pick up the Bold 9900, instead of the Sensation 4G, or the EVO 3D, or the iPhone 4, or the Galaxy S II...
And the PlayBook? Well, it could do pretty well as a business-dedicated tablet, the perfect companion for the BlackBerry-sporting businessperson, but no – RIM is doing its best to convince us that the PlayBook is rather a tablet, which you can have lots of fun time with. While it may be so, there are many other tablets out there, which are much more capable at this than the PlayBook.
The right track
RIM isn't quite on the right track yet. While it's doing its best to remain relevant on the business front, by implementing “new” features like a touchscreen on the new Bold, it has to rethink its strategy with the consumer. Adopting the new QNX platform seems like the right choice, since one of the more significant issues within its ecosystem is the aging BlackBerry OS itself. However, the first QNX smartphones are not expected to launch until (hopefully) early next year, and just how well they'll do remains to be seen. And until then, iOS 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich will have already hit the market, delivering their goods to happy consumers all around the world.
Many consider QNX as RIM's last chance to survive in this cruel world, and we certainly hope that the legendary Canadian manufacturer will pull it off. Not all is lost for these guys yet. After all, they are still enjoying those pretty decent profits, but if they don't act as quickly as possible, RIM's chances to get back on the right track might soon be lost forever.
5. droidnator posted on 22 Sep 2011, 07:02 5 2
Sammy's OS sucks. If RIM were to change QNX for anything, it should be Android, not Samsung's half-baked platform that has only two fanboys, one of which is from Sweden. And is trolling non-stop.
8. gimme some (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 07:05 3 2
RIM using bada,,, wot have you been smokin' dude?!!!
13. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:18 0 5
Listen, i'm not saying RIM is going to use bada, it is just a suggestion. But bada would definitely be good for them, much better than the dated BBOS
11. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:15 1 4
bada does not suck, it is a great OS. It has more functions and personalization options than both WP7 and IOS, so with your reasoning you think IOS and WP7 sucks.
15. bobfreking55 posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:30 1 1
Its the hardware mostly that sucks on BB. Not much on the software.
NO PLANS FOR DUAL CORE? SMALL SCREENS?? (Proof that no one likes small screens anymore) AND THE QWERTY KEYBOARD THAT IS TOO NARROW.
48. dionddc posted on 30 Sep 2011, 03:22 0 0
What makes you think that customisation makes a phone better?
7. remixfa posted on 22 Sep 2011, 07:03 2 0
lord i hope your joking.
they wont give up as they still have a lock down on business, but they will be relegated to a business niche product and forgot about by everyone else if QNX fails. Ill take QNX over plain ol iOS any day, but it doesnt hold a candle to what Android is offering or even windows8
prognosis.. outlook not so good.
10. taco5O. (banned) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:00 1 0
Nah, RIM should not use bada, alltought it is much better than IOS.
RIM should adopt Android as their main OS for everyday people, and WP7 for the business people.
21. remixfa posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:00 0 0
as serious as i dont think you are, they are using android.. well.. at least the market.
QNX is android market and app capable. So it gives BB security while being able to have a little fun.
12. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:17 1 3
With bada, the outlook for RIM looks pretty good !
27. remixfa posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:34 2 1
yea, nothing like going from a premium business platform to a cheap teenager's platform that no one knows about!! lol
28. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:35 1 4
Haha, as both you and i know bada is not a cheap teenagers platform.
bada is a smartphone OS that has more funtcions and personalization options than IOS and WP7, yet faster than Android.
37. remixfa posted on 22 Sep 2011, 21:43 0 0
actually, samsung themselves call it a "value OS" platform.
value is a nice term for CHEAP. :) Its prime phone uses year old tech..
32. kunal2609 posted on 22 Sep 2011, 15:27 1 1
what is ur problem??stop mentioning bada everywhere...it drives its sales from korea....and low end devices elsewhere!!nothing exceptional...even samsung uses age old hardware in their NEW WAVE 3!!grow up!!
38. XiphiasGladius posted on 23 Sep 2011, 06:21 0 0
What the heck has just happened to you peter? each day your getting out of tune. . .
39. Life (unregistered) posted on 23 Sep 2011, 09:58 0 0
Well Mr.Peter, if you're really from Sweden and if you really own all the phones you showed in you profile, then buy only NOKIA phones if you want to avoid European recession.
2. ayephoner posted on 22 Sep 2011, 06:10 2 0
right track? yes. right time? NO.
they need QNX phones out this year. to compete with the iphone and the slew of android options and to capture the holiday market, they should have been much more motivated to get these devices to the consumer this year.
4. HTCiscool posted on 22 Sep 2011, 06:47 2 0
The problem is that although blackberrys are ok.RIM chooses to price them right at the top of the range so none of their problems can be forgiven. The original Torch was absolutely horrible, the Playbook was great, save for no apps and their latest trio are alright, but priced too highly for me to consider. I fear it must be too late, if the Bold was dual core they may have had a chance.
9. EasyFix (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 07:51 1 0
They need to build a phone that is on par with all the other major players.
4" plus screen
8 Meg Camera
The platform would be fine if they would get email on par with the other platforms. Support for Exchange without BES. BES should be optional. There are some enterprises that would use it. Very secure. However, most users, even corporate users don't need it and don't want it.
14. Droid_X_Doug posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:22 0 0
There is a reason why RIM is trying to find a home for 800,000 PlayBooks.... The PlayBook is symptomatic of RIM's struggles.
17. Dan__ (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 08:43 3 1
Stop mentioning Bada in every of your posts...
20. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 09:31 0 1
But there is no reason for my comment to be moderated. It is completely ON TOPIC.
I was just suggesting RIM might be using bada if QNX fails, and that is on topic.
24. John_ (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:13 0 1
Peter, this is a RIM article - I am glad you got moderated. It just gets annoying to turn every discussion about bada. Just discuss the current topic...
26. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:22 0 0
I am duscussing the current topic.
22. remixfa posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:04 1 0
peter is being moderated from saying bada.
can we add bada to the list of banned words? lol
23. PeterIfromsweden posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:06 0 0
Nope, that can't be allowed. One of the PhoneArena team said to me that "we have no anti-bada bias".
PhoneArena, please live up to that statement !
25. iPhoneFan (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 10:15 3 0
He just excessively uses Bada, don't you agree?
29. jack1059 (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 11:19 0 0
I think rim are on the right track with their current offerings. However, if they hope to survive with what they have, they'd better pick up the pace. New phone development needs to be faster, and their needs to be greater differentiation between phones. That seems fairly non substantial, but its what people expect these days, along with speedy firmware updates and a decent app store. If they can't get those things right, and quickly, then they'll get sold off for their patents. In my uneducated opinion Id give them a year to turn it around.
30. kickinbass posted on 22 Sep 2011, 11:33 0 0
I am in the business of cell phones, we still get a lot of loyal customers still upgrading to BB, on the other hand a good 60% upgrade to IOS or Android. Yet many try out the IOs and return it to go back to it's Server based entity. Well never the less, BB really needs to improve Browser service substantially to gain back confidence of it's loyalty base but the need too hustle cause they are digging deeper and deeper.
31. was_bb_lover (unregistered) posted on 22 Sep 2011, 13:10 0 0
RIM strong point is always BB Messanger, email, encryption.
RIM was caught off guard
RIM thought that others can't compete with their solution.
While it's true to some extend,
RIM were surprised that Chatting (BBM) was not even considered cool anymore.
and user would love to have android/iOS (multimedia centric OS) rather than having BBM.
The fall of RIM as mentioned by Tomi Ahonen, that RIM was too stuck up to understand that the unlimited messaging from carrier meaning a better messaging services than BBM because SMS is more reliable than BBM, and also because SMS is cross platform whereas the BBM is a close solution.
the era of BB is gone.
What is good in BB were not really important anymore.
And not to mention that Operating System (OS) was not RIM strong point from day one.
I really hope RIM understand this and disband their OS division, hardware division, and become a pure messaging solution for iOS, Android, WP7, Symbian, Bada so that what it's good in RIM is not wasted.
33. Lwazi_N posted on 22 Sep 2011, 15:43 1 0
Wow, my comment was moderated *sits in naughty corner*
34. snowgator posted on 22 Sep 2011, 17:13 0 0
I know. Your comment about old Pete being moderated was moderated. Kinda funny....
35. snowgator posted on 22 Sep 2011, 17:27 0 0
I have come 180 degrees on RIM. The Curve was my first smartphone (I will not count my horrid experience with the Samsung Blackjack which sent me back to feature phones), and I had kind of a loyalty to Blackberry. Really wanted to see them become the premium smartphone maker. But, a funny thing happened to me on the way to being a fan boy- I started learning and trying out other devices. Just blew me away how limited and unimaginative the Blackberry world was. About 6 months ago, my Wife would not even entertain the idea of anything but a Blackberry. Now, she is ready to chuck her Curve into a wall and is DYING for a better phone. Now I wish no evil on RIM. It is just hard to defend them when they crawled into their box, patted themselves on the back as to how smart they were, and still think the Mobile world will go back to the way it was in 2008 - 2009.
Count me in the corner of someone who now believes Blackberry will go back to being a buisness only device, with very little to no impact on the consumer world. I can see them using BBM as a money maker software for other OS's, and just working on the security and advantages that they give industry to protect their buisness first OS. Any sales in the consumer world will be gravy.
41. Nice Old Guy (unregistered) posted on 24 Sep 2011, 11:13 0 0
I have had many Blackberrys and really like them but I see their biggest fault is their demand that you use their text & push mail. What a shame they are so limited on most cell providers. All they are doing is limiting their consumer demand....
43. dotuxin (unregistered) posted on 25 Sep 2011, 01:25 0 0
RIM should be using android to get on the right track,, to lol
44. FernMar (unregistered) posted on 25 Sep 2011, 07:32 0 0
I don't think their real problem has to do with the features and performance of their phones (that should be their personal goal to achieve that or not). Every phone can't be on the same level some have to be less superior than others and the BB happens to be less superior. But the biggest problem is instead of BB accepting and admitting that they act as if they are among the biggest and baddest phones by pricing their very inferior phones at the same price as the superior ones. Now you have to really be a BB fan to buy one.